Mobile devices have expanded and enriched our personal and professional lives in recent years, to the point that they seem nearly indispensable. It is difficult to imagine a time when you could not beam text or pictures across the globe in a matter of seconds, access an up-to-the-minute weather report to plan your day, search vast collections of data to answer a question or complete a task, plus a myriad of other things we take utterly for granted.

Increasingly, the reach and usefulness of our devices depend on mobile cloud services. These serve to augment our expertise, collaboration and control over our personal and professional lives. Here are four areas in which mobile cloud computing (MCC) services enable mobile users to take it to the next level.

1. Data
Cloud data services have enabled the storage and retrieval of audio, video and any type of file from any device, as long as you have an Internet connection. As most of these services also function on mobile devices, documents are no longer tied to your office computer. Rather, they are quickly and easily accessible from anywhere. Collaborating becomes easy and straightforward: Colleagues can work simultaneously on the same document shared in the cloud from a convenient device, whether that is a tablet or a smartphone. Device capabilities such as cameras and microphones allow photo, video and audio files to be synced to cloud services. For instance, to maximize my driving time I find it useful to record audio on my smartphone when I’m on the road (hands free!), upload it to my cloud service, then access it later when I return to the office.

2. Speech Services
The most natural interface of all is speech, and mobile devices are uniquely able to take advantage of this style of interaction with services that enable the mobile user to use speech on-the-go, such as speech-to-text services that offer real-time transcription. Higher-level services such as Dialog — which enables an application to have a natural-seeming conversation with users — are also on the market. These capabilities are exposed in the cloud and powered by advanced analytics that allow a mobile user to converse easily and connect to a range of services from anywhere.

3. Cognitive Services
New cognitive services exposed in the cloud are enabling mobile users to augment their expertise and analysis from their smart devices. Services that provide question-and-answer capabilities allow mobile users to query across an expertise domain, or perform advanced analysis of text or image-based information. Immediate answers to inquiries are provided on their mobile device. These mobile cloud services have many applications in expertise-driven fields such as healthcare and field service. Increasingly, given the trend toward wearable smart devices, these MCC services will be able to become even more valuable by providing timely, expert answers right on your wrist.

4. APIs
One of the areas with the most far-reaching potential in mobile cloud services is enabling and extending business APIs. The “API economy” is a trend toward exposing the capabilities of your business externally — to your customers, partners and ecosystem — and enabling users to utilize your digital services from Web, mobile or even IoT devices. When you enable mobile users to securely access their critical enterprise data via APIs from their mobile applications, the entire enterprise becomes mobile. When you expose your business APIs as MCC services, you enable customers and partners to innovate: They can create an ecosystem centered around them using your business capabilities. Mobile powered by APIs in the cloud is a powerful engine of integration, collaboration and innovation.

The intersection of mobile and cloud services will only accelerate and enable mobile interactions to become even more powerful, collaborative and expertise-driven. Combining smart mobile applications and cloud services accelerates the pace of innovation, enabling both born-on-cloud and existing business to take advantage. Mobile apps that leverage the cloud have the potential to deliver rich experiences and capabilities that will empower your employees and delight your customers.

To learn about Mobility solutions that may benefit your business, speak with your Sirius client executive or contact us.

This blog article was written by Greg Ackerman, IBM MobileFirst technical specialist. This post originally appeared at IBM’s Mobile Business Insights